KITTEN VACCINE SCHEDULE
Kittens should be vaccinated starting 6 weeks old with the shots ending at ~19 weeks old with boosters afterwards to keep their immunization going. See the Kitten Vaccine Schedule for more.
There are reports stating that the AVMA and the AAFP, believe that cats at low risk of disease exposure may not need yearly boosters for most diseases. Please discuss with your veterinarian so you can together decide the most appropriate vaccination schedule for your kitten/cat!
Kitten Vaccine Side Effects
Hi Simba - I took our 10-week-old kitten, Pepe, for his vaccinations yesterday. He has not been himself since his shots…he is lethargic, off his food and tender at the site where he received his FRCP shot. He also received his rabies and feline leukemia shots in addition to dronsit, as he had passed some small, white, rice shaped worms.
He was fine until after the shots. We adopted him from the local humane society as our, Simone, seemed in need of company. They get on well together - now...initially, Simone hissed at him and did not like another cat around. Now wherever he goes, she goes and vice-versa. I am concerned about him because he has not eaten, or drank anything, since his shots. I think it may be due to his injections. I called our vet and she thought the same and suggested a small dose of baby aspirin (he feels hot) or a dose of a steroid. As a registered nurse, I would prefer not to use medications. If he is not better tomorrow I am taking him to see the Vet. What do you think? Worried Stepfather.
Dear Worried Stepfather,
I think you hit it right on the head. Many kittens experience a post-vaccine depression. It is perfectly normal, especially given the volume of vaccinations he received. He should be ok in a day or two. Keep an eye out for the spot where the Leukemia shot was administered. The vaccine has been known to have side effects. - Simba
My 5-month-old, neutered, indoor kitten went to the Vet 5 days ago for his Rabies, and FVRCP (Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus and sometimes Chlamydia). He has had really smelly diarrhea since then and it seems that his nose & pads of his feet are not as pink (they look milky white). Is this a result of the shots or could he have a virus or bacteria? I do not want overreact and run to the Vet but I am concerned. Sarah
It is not uncommon for kittens and cats to exhibit symptoms following their shots. The most important things to watch out for are change in your kitty's behavior and energy levels. Healthy kittens usually have wet pink noses although even a healthy kitten can have a warm, dry nose occasionally. White noses and pads are not generally good health signs, since they may signal cardiovascular problems (the heart is unable to deliver blood & oxygen to the cat's extremities). Check out the Upset Stomach section for information on loose stools. It may not be a bad idea to take your kitten to the vet. It is always best to err on the side of caution. Your Pal, Simba
Dear Simba, We have had Sunshine, our 7-month old kitten, for 2 months. We took her to the vet last week for what our vet told us was feline acne(?). He gave her a shot. She started sneezing a couple of days later. This past weekend her sneezing got worse. She is less active and has less of a "Sunny" personality. She has no other symptoms besides the sneezing & mood change. She is eating, sleeping and using her litter box w/o problem and has no discharge. The mood change is upsetting. The vet was stumped. He recommended children's Benadryl for allergies. Sunshine did not take too fondly to grape tablets…when we did finally manage to get her to swallow one she began foaming. This was upsetting. Is there anything we can do to alleviate her sneezing/congestion, and is the foaming normal when giving pills? -Caring 4 Partly Sunny
Dear Caring 4 Partly Sunny
Sunshine's sneezing can be caused by anything from stress, dust mites, litter dust (changed litters recently?) to the Cat Flu. The Calici Virus (one of the cat flu culprits), is known to cause some foaming, among other symptoms. I say take Sunshine to a vet to get a solid diagnosis. Your best bet 'till your vet visit is to keep her well fed and clean. As for the foaming, the answer is yes, sometimes.
When do cats foam at the mouth?
Determine if the foaming was an isolated incident. If so, then it might have been the Benadryl. Remember, if you feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable with the treatment your local vet has given Sunshine, get her a second medical opinion…she is your baby! Keep me posted. Simba
Dear Simba - My 3-year-old tabby just got her annual check-up and shots, including rhinovirus, distemper, rabies and leukemia. This was yesterday. Today she is not feeling well. She has shallow and rapid breathing. She also feels like she has a fever. I think this happened last year when she had her shots. Is this normal?
Hi Any time an otherwise healthy cat or kitten suddenly exhibits shallow breaths and rapid breathing is a time to be concerned. It is possible that your tabby had a reaction to the Leukemia vaccine. Your best bet is to call your vet and discuss the matter with him/her. You do not want to take chances here. Simba
Hi there. Glad to report that my cat is perfectly fine this morning, thank goodness. Obviously vaccinations CAN make cats sick for a day or two. Pretty rough on them! Thanks for your help.
My pleasure - Simba
Concerns about Cat Vaccines
Simba, Can a nursing Mother Cat get her inoculations or does she have to wait until the kittens are weaned? John K
Dear John K,
It is best to hold off on any vaccinations until the mother cat is no longer nursing the kittens. This will occur at 5-6 weeks. If you feel that the underlying conditions are serious you may want to have the mother vaccinated and then place the kittens in either foster care or feed them kitten formula. This I recommend only under the advice of a vet. Otherwise, it is best to wait until weaning. Your Pal, Simba
I recently had to put my 2-year old cat to sleep because of vaccine-induced cancer. I have since acquired a new 5-month kitty and am very reluctant to give him any vaccines at all, although I know rabies is a must. He is an indoor kitty (and was before we adopted him), and has tested negative for feline leukemia. My question is what vaccines are absolutely necessary for an indoor cat? Bonnie
I am sorry about your loss. You ask a good question. See the above schedule for required vaccines. do not be scared of protecting your kitten. Your kitty should be immunized even if he is going to remain an indoor cat and will have no contact with other indoor/outdoor cats, has a low risk of escape and contact with cats. Like your loss, accidents happen but do not let your previous negative experience keep you from doing what's right for your little guy. Simba
Dear Simba, My cat had 5 kittens four weeks ago. They all seem to be doing well and they look healthy. When I should I start the heartworm treatment and shots? - Party of Five
Dear Party of Five,
Vaccinations should begin when your kittens turn 8 weeks old. They usually continue until they turn 12 weeks. Basic vaccination will protect against Rabies, Feline Distemper, Rhinotracheitis and Calicivirus. Your parasite/heartworm control should start on your first vet visit. Talk to him or her about starting a prevention program. Simba
Dear Simba, I just got two 6-week old kittens from a local shelter. Their shot records say they received vaccinations for Panleukopenia, Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Chlamydia. Their sheet says that they received Anthelban as a treatment/prevention. What is this? Also, one of the kittens has diarrhea. Could he have worms? Could it be serious?
I have also noticed what appears to be "flea dust". What can i do if they have fleas? I know that some things are unsafe because they are soo young. Summer, along with Zoe & Tiko
Dear Summer, Zoe & Tiko,
Great job getting the little ones vaccinated and checked up. Be sure to follow all the directions your vet gave you and to get the booster shots on schedule. As for the parasitic drug you mentioned, Anthelban is a worming drug. Now for their poor little tummies, loose stool may, but does not necessarily mean equal worms. Your vet probably performed a fecal test during to determine if the little guys have the parasite. If your vet did not find anything, the little guys are probably ok. However, to be sure, check the stool for small rice like particles. To find more information on worms and flea treatments, go to Fleas or see Intestinal Parasites. To treat the diarrhea check out the Kitten Diarrhea section. Other readers have experienced similar problems. I hope this helps - Simba
Vaccinating Pregnant Cats
Hi Simba! I recently adopted a stray that's been hanging around my house. She is pregnant and will probably deliver in a few weeks. I have three other cats; one of those cats had a severe upper-respiratory infection when I adopted her. When I adopted the other cats, I made sure they had all been vaccinated and had my vet's approval before they were exposed to her. Even so, they both had mild "colds" after being around the carrier.
I'm keeping the pregnant cat separate from the others. But she has already darted out into the rest of the house, with the expected spitting on all sides, which I'm sure carried germs. I'm not sure I can successfully keep her from being exposed to the other cats.
I'm looking for information onthe effects of vaccinating a pregnant cat for upper-respiratory infections. My vet had told me they do not recommend vaccinations in general for pregnant cats because of the risk of infection to the mother and/or kittens. But since the risk of infection is high anyway, and since the vaccination seems to make the infection much less severe, I'm trying to decide if it is worth the risk. Can you tell me where I might go to find studies about this? Rebecca J
Dear Rebecca J,
As your vet probably told you, developing fetuses are much more susceptible to damage by vaccine viruses than are kittens or adult cats and can lead to fetal death, abortions or congenital birth defects. Because of that risk I tend to believe that vaccinations during pregnancy should be avoided. However, there is some research that indicates that some Feline Upper Respiratory Disease vaccines may be safe in pregnant cats. If you do choose to vaccinate your cat, do so with a killed or inactivated vaccine. The following links contain some helpful information:
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